The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 34: Dig for Victory

Update 34: Dig for Victory

Last time, Bryson II killed a couple of dragons, and this time she didn't almost die in the process! We've made great strides.

We're now at 2950', and we face a choice. Between 3000' and 5000' (the bottom of the dungeon), not a whole lot changes. A few more basic monster types "enter depth" (i.e. no longer have to pass extra checks to get generated), as do a few more item types -- especially spellbooks! But mostly all that happens is that the monster density goes up and more really nasty uniques start showing up.

Thus, right now we could dive to 4900' (one dungeon level above Sauron) and we wouldn't really increase our odds of dying horribly all that much. By which I mean, we'd still be in constant danger of getting one-shotted by an ornery monster that decided to wake up at the wrong time. We'd have to replay 4900' many times over to get the loot and levels we need to start the endgame, though.

Or we could keep diving at the same pace we've been using up to now, which would still probably end up requiring us to replay several levels, but wouldn't be quite so extreme.

I'm not leaving this open to a vote, by the way. Those of you who want Bryson II to win would probably vote for her to flee back to 2000' or so anyway

Well, if we're going to dive, then we need more last-ditch escapes; one Scroll of *Destruction* won't cut it. We have a spare back home, as well as a Scroll of Deep Descent; it'll make a good start.

Hello again, town. Sadly, there's nothing in the Black Market. The Armoury does have a pair of Sandals of Speed <+5>, which is impressive but not as good as our current boots.

Time to bust out that scroll!

The air around you starts to swirl...
The floor opens beneath you!

Some baseline rules for this dive: before taking the stairs, we haste up and cast Resistance, and when we arrive on a new level we cast Door Creation. If we don't see anything immediately interesting in the vicinity, then we cast Stair Creation until we get some stairs, rest up, recast buffs, and take the stairs.

Some highlights from the descent:

At 3300', a lesser vault and a Giant Pit, with a Greater Titan in the middle:

We stay away from both.

At 3400', we find a Cloak of the Magi with telepathy, which could be useful if we find an amazing helm that justifies replacing our current ESP source:

At 3450', we spawn in a room with both the Balrog of Moria and the Lernaean Hydra, with an Archlich nearby:

Stealth and Teleport Other keep us covered.

At 3550', a pit of green dragons, with a Great Swamp Wyrm in the middle:

This is actually tempting; dragons can drop an awful lot of loot, which means a lot of chances at Constitution potions and spellbooks, even if we punt on killing all of the Ancient Dragons (and the Wyrm of course). Swapping out our Main Gauche of Guron for the dagger "Barimlad" (which gives poison resistance) drops us 90 HP, which is painful, but we should be able to manage. I'd rather not risk having Resistance run out on us at an inopportune moment.

Tricky positioning -- the room we're in connects to the nest via the northeast corner, as indicated by the dragons heading that way when we get close. The problem here is pulling one dragon at a time. A problem that solves itself when it turns out the Great Swamp Wyrm has smarter pathing than his buddies and thus can make the connection:

Well, we might as well see if this is at all feasible. First we retreat away from the nest to give us some room to Phase Door. Here we are, near where we entered the level:

Unloading all of our wand charges into him (3x Dragon's Flame, 6x Cold Balls, 4x Drain Life) brings him to 70% dead; not bad! We recharge the Dragon's Flame wands and use them to set him to flight, and then finish him off with Acid Bolts. He only drops a Potion of Healing and a Rapier of Westernesse...but he was also worth an incredible 35000 experience, more than we've gotten for any other one kill.

Time to start on the Ancient Dragons, after blowing up one of our Drain Life wands trying to recharge it. We stick to Acid Bolt for these guys; it only takes about a dozen each. They're worth 2222 experience each and drop plenty of items.

Between permanent and temporary resistance to poison, even an Ancient Green Dragon can't hit us for more than 23 damage with their breath, so it should be safe to get closer. Hell, their melee damage is more threatening than their breath weapons now. Things go much faster this way; we can hit multiple dragons with beamed Acid Bolts.

Then Ji Indur Dawndeath shows up. We can teleport him away, but he keeps coming back. Still, we manage to finish up the nest, despite the interruptions. Total loot:
And of course, a crapton of money and experience, though we're still at level 36. Mages level up more slowly than warriors do, alas.

We bop back to town to drop some items off. This time, the Black Market has a Potion of Constitution in stock. 429 max HP! Here's what our stats look like now:

Honestly we have enough STR now; if we find a Ring of Poison Resistance then it'd be worth wearing instead of our <+6> STR ring.

Here's our inventory prior to going back down:

...I forgot to actually pick up the Staff of Banishment Oh well!

Also, when we hit level 36 last update, we gained access to a new spell in Mordenkainen's Escapes:

Rune of Protection: "Inscribes a glyph of warding beneath you. Summoned monsters can't appear on the glyph. If a monster attempts to move onto the glyph or melee you while you are standing on the glyph, it must first succeed in breaking the glyph. Higher level monsters are more likely to break the glyph. The glyph will remain where it is, until a monster succeeds in breaking it, or until you leave the level."

This spell can be quite useful. You can have as many glyphs out as you like at a time, so a valid strategy can be to fill an anti-summoning corridor with them prior to starting a fight, and then taking a step back every time the monster you're fighting breaks the glyph. Rune of Protection is insanely expensive at 60 SP per cast, but we do have 15 Potions of Restore Mana handy. And of course, if you control when the fight starts, you can cast it and then rest up.

In the old days, summoned monsters appeared next to the player, not next to the summoner. But if all spaces within two steps of the player were occupied, then the summon would just flat-out fail. This lead to the "Sea of Runes" technique for fighting Morgoth (and potentially other big monsters, but Morgoth is easy to deal with because he can't fail to chase you down). Create a big pile of runes, and stand in the middle. Let the monster approach you, casting spells or shooting missiles at it as it approaches. When it reaches the edge of the runes, teleport it away. Very cheesy, and no longer applicable due to the change in summoning mechanics.

Anyway, back into the dungeon!

At 3600', we have a spectacular RNG failure with Stair Creation:

I guess that's only 1 in 32 odds, but still!

At 3750', a good example of why you always lead off by casting Door Creation:

That Nexus Quylthulg could have woken up and teleported us away into who knows what.

At 3850', a nasty-looking vault of some kind:

Feagwath, the Undead Sorcerer is in there, as is Ar-Pharazon the Golden, a Greater Titan, and a couple of Dreadmasters. We can't really afford to tangle with any of those guys. Creeping closer, we detect the layout:

Oh dear, a "Crown" vault. Monsters can get out of those things extremely easily. Definitely not worth taking on.

4000' is bizarrely unthreatening:

I decide to take a quick break from powerdiving to explore, and find Ulfang the Black and his son Ulwarth, along with several chumps and a Greater Basilisk.

Ulfang's only spell is Summon Kin -- remember our fight with Uldor, who summoned a Necromancer? Same deal. Annoyingly, Ulfang manages to pull a Grand Master Mystic:

And then the Greater Basilisk breathes nexus. I forgot they could do that. Fortunately, instead of having our stats scrambled, we just get teleported:

Once again, Create Doors saves us from something nasty; this time it's a Greater Rotting Quylthulg which I'm sure would have loved to drop a ton of Ringwraiths on our head:


Intriguing, there's a vault on this level:

Nothing too dangerous from our view here. Let's get closer.

Oh hey! It's one of the old vaults! Man, this brings back memories. This is the "Chambers" greater vault, one of the only four such vaults that existed in the original version of the game. For a long time, this, "Butterfly", "Large", and "Huge" were it for greater vaults.

The monster list is moderately nasty, but not unmanageable:

Quaffing a Potion of Enlightenment turns up a bunch of unidentified staves and wands, but no spellbooks

Well, we'll want to crack this open, but not until we deal with that Greater Basilisk and collect Ulfang's drop.

Teleport away the Grand Master Mystic...

You have 10 charges remaining. The Greater basilisk is badly frozen. The Greater basilisk flees in terror!

Shatter the basilisk...

And we're at the loot!

The only interesting item is Augmented Chain of Elvenkind with sound resistance -- a straight upgrade to our Robe of Elvenkind.

You were wearing a Robe of Elvenkind [2,+5] <+1>. You are wearing Augmented Chain Mail of Elvenkind (-2) [42,+16] <+2>. The weight of your armor encumbers your movement.

Oops. We're wearing so much armor (41.9 pounds!) that it's interfering with our spellcasting. This just costs us some mana: we drop from 289 SP to 278 SP. That's totally manageable.

Ulwarth, Son of Ulfang dies trivially, but drops nothing interesting. We sneak into an adjacent room to steal a Staff of Banishment that I noticed lying on the floor; that's at least an extra 2 charges of "fuck fighting these guys". Of course, it doesn't work on uniques...

But there's only 1 unique in the vault. Arien, Maia of the Sun is in the far northwest corner, where she should be relatively easy to teleport away. We'll just need to be very certain to get the drop on her, or at the very least have temporary fire resistance up.

Close enough. Resist Fire goes up, the door gets turned to mud, and

Arien, Maia of the Sun disappears!

Fuck fighting you.

As for the other denizens of the vault, fuck fighting Aether hounds (who resist everything). And fuck fighting quylthulgs.

Choose a monster race (by symbol) to banish: Z
Choose a monster race (by symbol) to banish: Q

Recharge buys us another 3 charges, one of which I spend on Ancient Dragons (there's just too many of them in there). Everything else is pretty singular and thus should be easy to teleport away, or else is not an especially large threat.

We clear the first half of the vault without difficulty, now that its major guardians are gone. Then:

The Aether vortex breathes inertia. You feel yourself moving slower! The Aether vortex breathes force. The Icky Green Potion of Enlightenment shatters! You have been stunned.

Bleh. Aether Vortices breathe everything and are immune to everything (same as Aether Hounds), so you're stuck with nonelemental damage or melee if you want to kill them. I'd forgotten this one was in the vault and he got the drop on us to the tune of 150 damage. Fortunately we can just step out of LOS to recover. We have to wake up the Ice Trolls with a Stinking Cloud before they'll get out of its way so we can teleport the vortex clear.

The last members of the vault: a Silver Mouse, a Bodak, and an Eldrak.

We also teleported away a Gelugon, a rather nasty ice-themed greater demon. I don't think its shards breath could have one-shotted us now that we have 429 HP, but it would have been too close for comfort, and besides, they can summon greater demons.

Our loot:

Not bad considering the amount of effort we put in. We bop back to town again, and stash the Staff of Power and our Banishment scroll, keeping everything else on-hand. Our inventory is pretty full now!

At 4150', we find this interesting little setup:

Saruman, a Blue Dragon Pit, and a Great Storm Wyrm that is strangely not part of said pit despite being right outside -- you can tell because he's asleep. I guess he got locked out? Anyway, this should be profitable, if we can separate Saruman from everyone else. Annoyingly, our Rod of Magic Mapping is still recharging, so we can't scout the layout effectively.

Conveniently there's some rubble here. We can crack open one of the walls on either side, he'll step through, he gets teleported away. No muss no fuss.

Saruman of Many Colours disappears!

Next we need to deal with the Great Storm Wyrm. A little scouting reveals our corridor is an ideal battleground, aside from its proximity to the nest. But our wands ought to take him away before we have to worry about Phase Door, and the nest residents don't seem to be chasing us very aggressively.

Turn the piles of rubble into mud, wake the Wyrm with a Stinking Cloud, and lay him out flat with our wands. Of course, we make certain we're hasted and have temporary electricity resistance up; even the strongest elemental breather can't do more than 177 damage to you if you have stacked permanent and temporary resistances (1600 is the damage cap, then you divide it by 3 twice).

You have 2 charges remaining. The Great Storm Wyrm cries out in pain.

It doesn't take long before he's nearly dead. Wand-based offense is really quite long as your opponent doesn't resist it! We finish him off with Acid Bolts, netting ourselves 35000 experience (almost enough for another level), a Potion of *Healing*, and...nothing else. Oh well. Taking out the entire rest of the pit gets us:

Not a bad haul all told. We bop back to town again to stash loot; we simply don't have much in the way of spare inventory slots.

On 4200', we spot another vault, and chug an Enlightenment potion while getting closer:

This is an "Orb" vault. The main attraction is the center, which has several potentially-excellent treasures, but there's several good spots scattered about.

Still no spellbooks. Could be some equipment upgrades in here though.

There's a number of nasty customers here. We can clean things up a bit with our Staff of Banishment though.

Choose a monster race (by symbol) to banish: W
Choose a monster race (by symbol) to banish: Z

Kavlax is in the outer area of the vault, and I decide it's about time we finally dealt with him. It's gonna have to be with our now-singular Drain Life Wand, since he resists everything else, but I'm tired of running into him all the time.

First, though, we have to deal with Saruman of Many Colours, who just opened the western door:

Saruman of Many Colours disappears!

Then, while resting up from clearing part of the outer portion of the vault, Dwar, Dog Lord of Waw wakes up and starts coming from us. Oh well, Kavlax will simply have to wait!

Dwar has no resistances beyond the cold resistance that all wraiths get, fortunately, so we can lay into him with Dragon's Flame and Acid Bolt. He casts six spells; three fizzle, two attempt to hit us with blindness and confusion, which we are protected against; the last is a reasonably respectable nether ball, but it's too little, too late. His drop: Mordenkainen's Escapes () and a bunch of magical crap.

Right, Kavlax. To fight Kavlax, we need to stay away from the vault, mostly due to his gravity breath; if he hits it with us we'll teleport as with Phase Door, and I'm not certain if it can land us in the vault or not. Best to stay far enough away that range prevents it from doing so even if the code doesn't.

Of course, we need to wake him up first.

The targeted square will wake him if hit with a ball spell; we haste up and cast Resistance, then cast our spell; after that we can back away from the vault. Kavlax is only +10 speed, while we hit +24, so we should be able to make plenty of space in which to bombard him.

Hm, not as much as I was hoping for. On the flipside, it only takes 6 charges of Drain Life to kill him. Hooray for Greater Recharging!

He doesn't drop anything interesting either. Phooey. At least he didn't breathe anything nasty at us. Fighting monsters like Kavlax is always a crapshoot; sometimes they don't try to do anything dangerous, sometimes they nuke you. We have enough HP and speed to be able to survive his biggest attacks now, which is why I was willing to take him on at all, so don't let the ease with which he died mislead you. Kavlax is something of a glass cannon.

The Balrog of Moria walks out:

And is teleported for its trouble. We also teleport away a Drolem (733-damage poison breath? No thank you!), the Lernaean Hydra (4500 HP and lots of nasty breaths), Ar-Pharazon the Golden (too many annoying spells), Atlas the Titan (hahahahahahaha he's immune to everything and has 6000 HP!), a Jabberwock (we don't resist its chaos breath), a Berserker (it was coming for us when we wanted to rest up), and a Beholder Hive-Mother (no beholder is worth fighting ever, and Hive-Mothers are the strongest type). There's also a Greater Rotting Quylthulg in the vault, but we just don't disturb it, since it can't move.

Final loot tally:

Well, that seems like a good place to stop for today. We've dived 1200', found some nice upgrades, and finally killed Kavlax! It's been a good day.

Next time: 4900' or bust! Unless we get distracted by something really shiny.